“Celebrate we will for life is short but sweet for certain” ~ Dave Matthews
As I write this, another holiday has wound down. For the boys and me, the Easter festivities have become an opportunity to step out of the straight jacket that any holiday and its overwrought hype can bring. Any change in family circumstances will naturally impact the usual rituals of all holidays. For the most part, we have been able to keep many of our family customs-especially the Christmas ones-alive and well. For my sons, these latter traditions hold a very special meaning and they have been quite forthright about maintaining them.
A few years ago, we had an unusually warm Easter. In fact, it was quite hot-“beach weather” as we would call it. So I proposed that we throw out any of the usual sit-down dinner plans and head to the coast instead. We started the day with our faith community’s sunrise service in the woods. There is nothing better than rolling out of the sack with bed head, throwing on your” what-evers” for clothes and standing in the woods with the sounds of mother nature and peaceful music around you. Second best part-donuts and coffee afterward! We then hauled it back home to pack a picnic lunch, beach chairs and reading material. Let me tell you, very few people go to the beach and catch some rays in April around here! We were glad of the sparse population for sure. We ended the day with a late afternoon hike on one of the high points in our area. Just a perfect, uninterrupted respite for all of us.
Since then, we have managed to find ourselves doing things that create long lasting memories for this season. There have been times that we have been on the road home on Easter day. Two years ago, my youngest and I were on a church mission trip, helping to restore homes on an island off the South Carolina coast. We had sunrise service in the back green of the hotel’s parking lot and the kids had an egg hunt in their vans! Last year, we went out to the far reaches of our state to enjoy an overnight in a coastal town that is a hubbub of liveliness in the summer. The shoreline there is wide and has a vast expanse of dunes. The boys had never been to this part of the state before and we had a wonderful chance to enjoy the company of our friends, Manny and Tom. I loved the idea of a mini road trip to a place that is geographically and culturally diverse from where we live. We still talk about the experience and share some hilarious memories about it together.
This year, we had a bonfire the night before Easter with a few friends. Despite my evident fatigue, I still enjoyed the evening. We had a symbolic burning of things from the past, including the old stair treads from the recent home renovation as well as four boxes of old papers. I could not believe how long it took to burn those babies! And surprisingly, the purging was void of any emotional attachment. No joy, anger or sadness- just something that needed to get done to make room and to cleanse ourselves of negativity.
On Easter day, my youngest chose to spend time with his girlfriend’s family. This freed my oldest and I up to hit the city and enjoy some very fine art at the museum (this is not my second child’s thing) and a cheap lunch in one of the Jewish neighborhoods (yum!). We ended our day at his girlfriend’s family home for dessert. The funny thing is that when we got to our lunch destination, my oldest said that he felt as if he landed on another planet! Even though we were just thirty minutes from home, we were experiencing a completely different holiday feel. It was quite liberating!
My sons have come to the mature understanding that holidays are overrated. Too much pressure and too much of “must-dos” can prevent an authentic enjoyment of given days such as these. We believe it is important to be together but in ways that do not obligate us to one another. We believe it is important to take the time to do something different; to think outside the box of what our materialistic culture says is the “right way” to celebrate. In this way, we can create better loving connections with one another that can last long after the holidays are done.
My friends! I encourage you to give it a try; it is a worthwhile experiment!